I know, I know, a pastor is not supposed to admit he is selfish. A pastor should be above struggling with things like selfishness, pride, distractions, and discouragement.
Ok, that might not necessarily be true, but I have actually heard that before from people…which by the way is ridiculous if anyone thinks that a pastor is above being human since a pastor is still a human.
However, I think many times we as pastors often have those thoughts and feelings about ourselves as well. We have it in our mind that we have to be perfect, because we have a congregation of people who are looking up to us and need us to be the example of how to live for God at all times.
Yes, pastors are to live as an example for those whom they are shepherding and teaching. Yes, pastors need to make sure they are constantly checking themselves to make sure they are living a Godly life, both privately and publicly. Yes, pastors are called to a high standard. All that is true.
But pastors are people too. Pastors, even the best ones, can be selfish or feel pride or even get distracted and discouraged. That’s right. Those who stand before others and teach God’s Word. Those who are at all the church functions and events. Those who spend their days serving others or setting up opportunities for others to serve. Those who spend hours putting together their messages for the week. Those who are pastors also have times when they feel selfish, feel prideful, get distracted, and even become discouraged.
I know, because I am a pastor and I feel all of those ways at times.
I can feel pride when I focus on the numbers of students attending and getting involved in the Student Ministry. I can feel pride when a parent tells me they are attending the church because of the Student Ministry.
I can feel selfish when others in the ministry are getting recognition for something that I had a large part in but don’t receive recognition for as well. I can feel selfish when I see someone else getting a lot of attention.
I can get distracted when I have more things to take care of than time in my day/week to take care of them. I can get distracted when I’m going going going all the time and forget to take breaks.
I can get discouraged when I am trying to do something one way, but it turns out another way. I can get discouraged when I don’t like how something goes down or when I don’t feel like I’m having an impact like I want to.
I don’t like admitting I feel those ways at times, but if I’m being honest, I have to admit it because it’s the truth.
Why? Why can I feel those ways?
Because I am human. Because I can allow my focus to be on me rather than on God and the ministry. Because I can forget to rest from time to time. Because I want things done my way. Because I am a sinner. Because I am a human same as all other humans.
Looking at the numbers of students attending and participating is not a bad thing, it is encouraging. But I have to make sure I keep my focus in the proper place, or else pride can easily creep into my heart.
Seeing others receive recognition for what they do is great, and I want to set others up for success. In my ministry, I want the students and adult leaders to be receiving recognition for all they do…because they deserve it. But I have to make sure I don’t allow selfishness to weasel its way into my mind and heart.
As much as I love what I do and enjoy working hard on a regular basis, I still need to make sure that I am taking breaks from time to time. I need to make sure I allow myself to take a sabbath regularly, otherwise I overwork myself and begin to easily become distracted because my brain is overly tired.
Ministry rarely goes exactly as planned, but that’s life. If my focus is on doing things a certain way so that I accomplish what I want to accomplish, I will get discouraged. But if I remember to keep my focus on simply serving God by serving people, and remember that God alone is the one who changes lives, then I won’t get discouraged as often because I know God’s plan is perfect, even when I don’t understand it.
I’m a human, and I’m a pastor. I am imperfect, just like everyone else. But God has called me at this time to be a pastor.
May I, and may all the pastors who read this, remember to keep our focus on God and not on trying to be perfect. May we not create impossible standards or allow others to put them on us so that we are weighed down by them. May we remember that we serve God, who chose us in our imperfect state, by serving and loving the people around us. May we always strive to grow stronger in our own faith, and work on those areas we are weak in. May we be honest and real with ourselves and with others. May we not pretend to have all the answers, but always be willing to learn and discuss. May we simply follow God and what he is doing in the lives of people, and invite those we are called to shepherd to join us in this amazing journey that God has us on.